The Pilgrim's Progress
One of the most widely read books of all time, this adventure reveals John Bunyan's intense grasp of the Scriptures. Penned while in prison for refusing to compromise the gospel, The Pilgrim's Progress is a guide for the journey from death to life. The times have changed, but the landmarks and adversaries are very much the same.
The Pilgrim's Progress is a call to the high stakes of every Christian's journey. Don't pick it up expecting quaint amusement; it is a story of the undeniable truth, great cost, and overwhelming joy of the gospel.
CONTEXT AND CORRELATION
There is a story of Jesus casting out a demon from a young boy in Mark chapter nine. Commentaries and different Bible versions leave you in the dark as to whether the boy was actually dead or not. Here is a biblically supported reason for believing the boy seems to have died. I will use contextual support for this interpretation.
· The story of the transfiguration precedes our story. Peter, James and John see a glorified, resurrected Jesus that shone like the sun. Thus, messaging that Jesus will die and rise glorified. This follows 8:31. Jesus clearly states He will die and rise again. Our story (9:14-32) could be told to give the reader support to the newly introduced idea Jesus will rise from the dead.
· Again, Chapter 9:9-10 speaks of the Son of Man rising from the dead.
· The words in our story point to the boy actually being dead.
o The boy became like a corpse. 9:26
o The boy was believed to be dead. 9:26
o Jesus took him by the hand and “raised him”. 9:27
· The story of Jesus walking through Galilee teaching His disciples about His trial, death and resurrection (9:31) follow our story of the young boy. Here He clearly proclaims He will die and rise again.
Mark chapters 1-8 tell the reader who Jesus is. Chapters 9-16 tell the reader what Jesus came to do. Dying and rising from the dead is what Jesus came to do. Furthermore, because Mark wants the reader to make the switch from who He is to what He came to do, He pivots to a heavy theme of dying and rising repeated in 8:31 and 9:9-10 (leading into our story); and 9:31; 10:34 after our story. Our story is found among this grouping.
Up to chapter 8, Jesus has not spoken of His resurrection from the dead. But when He does speak of it, He does so in a matter-of-fact way leaving no gray area. I say this having contextual support for this interpretation. Do you have contextual support for why you believe what you believe?
But not so fast! Do you have correlation? Correlation is seeing your passage in light of the other similar passages found in other books. Do they say the boy died? Do they say Jesus brought him back to life?
Actually, no. Matthew 17:14-23; Luke 9:37-45; do not even hint at the idea that Jesus raised the child from the dead. Matthew says, “the boy was cured at once.” Luke says Jesus, “healed the boy and gave him back to his father.” That being said, we should take Mark’s words, “the boy became so much like a corpse that most of them said, ‘He is dead’” (Mark 9:26) as being exactly what the author meant.
Context is extremely important. I cannot emphasize enough how you should always look at passages in light of context. Nevertheless, also entertain correlation. What do the other authors have to say about the same event? Do other books or other authors of Scripture support your stance? Do you have correlation support for why you believe what you believe?
DISCIPLESHIP ENHANCES FELLOWSHIP
What about real Christian fellowship? How is it enhanced through discipleship? Life Groups can be centered around hearing, reading or studying the Bible. It can be challenging and enlightening. Yet, for a growing number, this still leaves you dry, longing for something more and still in a position of hearers rather than doers.
We become better informed but not really transformed. What is needed? What if we start with a question, “What if your discipleship focused on what kind of friends you want to be?” Do you want to be a faithful group of people who hold each other accountable for their daily walk with God? Do you want to be a cohort of Jesus followers who help each other discern God's presence? Do you want to follow God's lead in your lives? Do you want to be a collective of Great Commissioners living on mission with God in the flow of everyday life? If those folks come together in real Christian fellowship, on a regular basis, it will be anything but dry.
Having walked with God all week, you assemble having experienced Scripture's truth, with stories to tell and praises to give. Has your Life Group thought about what kind of friends you want to be: everyone doing their own thing or everyone on mission with God? It makes a difference if you long for real Christian fellowship.
WHO IS YOUR THREE?
Did you ever notice Jesus had people around Him all the time? For me, that would be exhausting. For some of you that would be close to heaven. For both of us, we need to notice the unique relationship Jesus had with three. Three friends. Three deep spiritual friendships. Jesus gave us a model to notice. He invested more deeply in a few. He didn’t invite the one-hundred twenty to every ministry event. In fact, He didn’t even invite the twelve to every ministry event. Only Peter, James and John got to see Jesus raise Jairus daughter from the dead. Only Peter, James and John were at Jesus’ Transfiguration and saw His divinity on display. Only these three were asked by Jesus to be with Him, to watch and pray for Him in the garden before He went to the cross. Like it or not, they were in a deeper discipleship relationship with Jesus than the others.
Through this Jesus taught us the need for real, genuine, authentic friends. Just a few. Someone to ask us, "How is your walk with Jesus?" Someone to help us discern the presence and guidance of the Spirit. You and I need a few spiritual friends to watch and pray for us, to speak the truth to us. There is no getting around it. Dry bones can live again. Find renewed life in a small band of brothers or a small band of sisters and live a much stronger life in the Spirit. Who is your Peter, James and John?
Dear heavenly Father, You are a Holy God and I desire to be holy too. Set me apart unto You, to live my life in a manner that is worthy of You and pleasing to You.
Search my heart I pray, and if there is any cherished sin lurking within, I ask that You would root it out, for I know that only the one that has clean hand and a pure heart may stand in Your presence.
Purify my heart, cleanse my inner thoughts and examine every motive behind my acts and attitudes, for I desire to live in holiness of heart - and if there is anything that is displeasing to You I ask that in Your grace, You would root it out, so that I may live in holiness all the days of my life, clothed in Christ’s righteousness separated unto You and walking in godly love – this I ask in Jesus name,
"Bold prayers honor God, and God honors bold prayers. God isn't offended by your biggest dreams or boldest prayers. He is offended by anything less. If your prayers aren't impossible to you, they are insulting to God."
Keep me, O Lord, from waxing mentally and spiritually dull and stupid. Help me to keep the physical, mental and spiritual fibre of the athlete, of the man who denies himself daily and takes up his cross and follows Thee. Give me good success in my work, but hide pride from me. Save me from the complacency that so frequently accompanies success and prosperity. Save me from the spirit of sloth, of self-indulgence, as physical infirmities and decay creep upon me.
Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy. Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy. Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy. Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy. Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy. Amen.
Almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Maker of all things, Judge of all; we acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness, which we, from time to time most grievously have committed by thought, word, and deed against Thy Divine Majesty, provoking most justly Thy wrath and indignation against us. We do earnestly repent and are heartily sorry for these our misdoings; the remembrance of them is grievous upon us; the burden of them is intolerable. Have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us most merciful Father; for Thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ's sake. Forgive us all that is past; and grant that we may ever serve and please Thee in newness of life, to the honour and glory of Thy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
"Let no one profess to trust in God, and yet lay up for future wants, otherwise the Lord will first send him to the hoard he has amassed, before He can answer the prayer for more."
" Have you ever said, 'Well, all we can do now is pray?' ... When we come to the end of ourselves, we come to the beginning of God."
Gracious Holy Spirit, so much of my life seems to revolve around my interests and my welfare. I would like to live just one day in which everything I did benefited someone besides myself. Perhaps prayer for others is a starting point. Help me to do so without any need for praise or reward. In Jesus name. - Amen.
Open unto me - light for my darkness.
Open unto me - courage for my fear.
Open unto me - hope for my despair.
Open unto me - peace for my turmoil.
Open unto me - joy for my sorrow.
Open unto me - strength for my weakness.
Open unto me - wisdom for my confusion.
Open unto me - forgiveness for my sins.
Open unto me - tenderness for my toughness.
Open unto me - love for my hates.
Open unto me - Thy Self for my self.
Lord, Lord, open unto me!
To clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world.
O merciful God,
whatever You may deny me,
do not deny me this love.
Save me from the idolatry of loving the world,
or any of the things of the world.
Let me never love any creature
but for Your sake and in subordination to Your love.
Take full possession of my heart;
raise there Your throne
and command there as You do in heaven.
Being created by You, let me live to You;
being created for You,
let me ever act for Your glory;
being redeemed by You,
let me render to You what is Yours
and let my spirit ever cleave to You alone.
"Blessed Savior, I am not good at resting in the hollow of your hand. Nothing in my experience has taught me this resting. I have been taught how to take charge. I have been taught how to be in control. But how to rest? No, I have no models, no paradigms for resting.
That is not exactly right. Jesus, when you walked among the Jerusalem crowds and in the Judean hills, you pioneered this way of living. You were always alert and alive. You lived utterly responsive to the will of the Father. Manifold demands were placed upon you, and still you worked in unhurried peace and power.
Help me to walk in your steps. Teach me to see only what you see, to say only what you say, to do only what you do. Help me, Lord, to work resting and to pray resting.
I ask this in your good and strong name.
Amen." Jean Vanier
My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that
I think I am following Your will does not mean that I am
actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please You
does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that, if I do this, You will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore I will trust You always though I may seem to be lost
and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for You are ever with me,
and You will never leave me to face my perils alone.
Take, Lord, all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my whole will.
You have given me all that I have, all that I am, and I surrender all to Your Divine will.
You have given me all that I have, all that I am, and I surrender all to Your Divine will.
Give me only Your love and Your grace. With this I am rich enough, and I have no more to ask.